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Foreign Labor Certification - Program Overview

The Foreign Labor Certification program establishes a means for an employer who anticipates a shortage of domestic workers to bring nonimmigrant foreign workers to the U.S. on a temporary or seasonal basis. TWC assists employers with temporary H-2A agricultural and H-2B nonagricultural job postings for recruitment of U.S. workers, conducts agricultural surveys, and reviews and processes temporary employment certification forms according to U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) regulations.

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The Foreign Labor Certification program serves employers who anticipate a shortage of domestic workers for temporary or seasonal work. The program:

  • Assists employers with temporary agricultural and nonagricultural job postings for recruitment of U.S. workers
  • Reviews temporary employment applications for compliance with DOL's regulations and policies/procedures
  • Conducts annual agricultural wage surveys on behalf of DOL
  • Conducts housing inspections required for agricultural employers

Before granting visas for foreign workers, DOL must issue a certification indicating that:

  • There are not sufficient workers who are able, willing, qualified and available to perform the temporary services or labor; and
  • The employment of the foreign worker will not adversely affect the wages and working conditions of similarly employed U.S. workers.

The employer must submit a job posting to TWC to test the labor market to verify the above two criteria prior to certification.

TWC assists in the administration of two temporary foreign labor certification processes:

  • The H-2A process establishes a means for agricultural employers who anticipate a shortage of domestic workers to bring nonimmigrant foreign workers to the U.S. to perform agricultural labor or services of a temporary or seasonal nature.
  • The H-2B process permits employers to hire foreign workers to come temporarily to the U.S. and perform temporary nonagricultural services or labor on a one-time, seasonal, peak load or intermittent basis.

Both processes require the Secretary of Homeland Security to consult with appropriate agencies before admitting nonimmigrants.

Employer job order requirements:

  • H-2A agricultural applications: The employer must submit a job order (Form ETA-790) to TWC for intrastate clearance, 60 to 75 days prior to the employer’s date of need.
  • H-2B nonagricultural applications: The employer must place a job order with TWC no more than 120 calendar days before the employer’s date of need for H-2B workers. Additionally, an employer may not file an H-2B nonagricultural application before all the pre-filing recruitment steps set in statute have been fully satisfied, except where specifically exempted from some or all of those requirements by regulations or special procedures.

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DOL’s Foreign Labor Certification Report presents employment-based immigration program data drawn from applications submitted to DOL by employers across the country.

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Authority & Funding

DOL, through the Employment and Training Administration, Office of Foreign Labor Certification’s national office and two processing centers, in cooperation with the State Workforce Agencies, administers various Foreign Labor Certification programs. Administration of the programs is mandated by the Immigration and Nationality Act and delineated by regulations in each program published in the Code of Federal Regulations.

TWC partners with DOL in the certification process for determining whether U.S. workers are available to fill jobs before employers may apply for foreign worker visas.

DOL allocates funds to the states for the administration of the temporary Foreign Labor Certification programs.

Foreign Labor Certification is governed by:

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Tips & Guides

Various resources for researchers and employers on processing H-2A agricultural and H-2B nonagricultural applications.


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